Season ends for Pitt with 73-55 rout by Wichita State
March 22, 2013 4:00 PM
Wichita State's Carl Hall dunks against Pitt in the second half of the second round of the NCAA tournament at EnergySolutions Arena. Wichita State knocked Pitt out of the tournament with a 73-55 victory.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon questions a call in the second half of his team's loss to Wichita State Thursday at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City.
By Ray Fittipaldo Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
SALT LAKE CITY -- Fifteen minutes after Pitt's season ended, NCAA officials opened the Panthers locker room to reporters.
At the first stall, freshman point guard James Robinson sat there sobbing uncontrollably.
Across the way, fellow freshman Steven Adams had tears in his eyes and could barely get through a brief interview without breaking down.
Simultaneously, at the postgame news conference 100 yards away, senior captain Tray Woodall could not compose himself.
He too broke down and cried.
After 40 minutes of suspect offense and another lackluster first-half effort, Pitt's bounce-back season was over.
No. 9 seed Wichita State blew out No. 8 seed Pitt, 73-55, in an NCAA second-round West Region game at EnergySolutions Arena.
"It's a bitter taste in my mouth to end my career with one of the worst games I've ever played in my history," Woodall said. "I'm sorry I let my team down. One of the worst games I've ever played."
It also doubled as one of Pitt's worst outings in the NCAA tournament. The 18-point margin of defeat was the largest for Pitt in the NCAA tournament in 20 years and the fourth-largest margin in its 24-game tournament history.
Wichita State, the second-place team from the Missouri Valley Conference, dominated the game across the board. The Shockers held Pitt to 35 percent shooting and held the Panthers to 1-for-17 shooting from behind the 3-point line. They won the rebounding margin by five and forced 15 turnovers.
Woodall's statistical line was particularly ugly. He was 1 for 12 from the field, 0 for 5 from 3-point range and had five turnovers.
Woodall's teammates couldn't pick him up, either.
Junior forward Lamar Patterson, the team's second-leading scorer, was 1 for 7 from the field.
Junior forward Talib Zanna, the third-leading scorer, was 1 for 4.
The only starter with more than two field goals was Adams, who registered his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
"We were too passive and not aggressive enough," Patterson said. "They forced those turnovers in the beginning and that slowed us down a little bit."
Pitt (24-9) had eight turnovers at halftime and trailed, 26-21. Wichita State quickly got up by double digits early in the second half and never allowed the Panthers to cut the deficit below eight in the final 12 minutes of the game.
"We knew they'd be aggressive," Robinson said. "We knew they were going to bring a lot of intensity. We just didn't match it. That was the No. 1 thing."
After its Big East tournament loss to Syracuse, in which the players admitted to putting forth a lackluster effort in the first half, the Panthers talked about how they wanted to bring the fight to opponents in the NCAA tournament.
But Wichita State (27-8) owned the hustle stats. The Shockers grabbed 11 offensive rebounds, recorded 10 steals and scored 21 points off Pit's 15 turnovers.
"Those guys punched us in the face early," Woodall said. "They kept attacking us and attacking us."
Despite those eight turnovers and shooting just 30 percent in the first half, the Panthers only trailed by five. Neither team had more than a two-point lead in the first 18:40 of the first half.
With 1:20 to go before halftime, Patterson was called for a flagrant foul for an inadvertent elbow on Wichita State guard Ron Baker. Baker converted one of two free throws, and the Shockers received possession.
On the ensuing possession, Malcolm Armstead, who led the Shockers with 22 points, grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with 34 seconds remaining that put the Shockers up by five at halftime.
"I think our guys were bothered by the flagrant foul call," coach Jamie Dixon said. "I tried to get them together on it. It was obviously inadvertent, but it was a call and it changed something. It seemed like that play bothered us more than it should have. It seemed like we didn't respond to that as well as we could have."
Dixon also didn't have an answer for the team's lack of aggression.
"I think they were far more aggressive than us early," Dixon said. "I don't know why that was, but we seemed to be on our heels. I can't explain it. One of the things we fought through, when we didn't make shots, we'd get impatient offensively. That's something we battled all year."
Robinson, the young freshman, might have summed the contest up best.